Sweet Shots FAQs
- What IS a DSLR, anyway? The term DSLR stands for “Digital Single Lens Reflex”… it’s a camera that is made up of a body and lenses that are interchangeable. Some popular DSLRs are: Canon Rebel XS, Canon EOS Rebel T2i, Canon EOS 60D, Nikon D60, Nikon D3000, Nikon D5000, Nikon D90, Nikon D7000, Sony A390, Pentax K-X, etc…
- Do I have to own a DSLR to come to the classes? What about a point-and-shoot/DSLR hybrid? The Sweet Shots classes are taught in a very “hands-on” method… for that reason, you’ll definitely want to have either a DSLR or a DSLR hybrid with you when you attend the class.
- Do I have to take the classes in order? Not necessarily! If you feel that you might be able to skip Level I and dive right into Level II, e-mail Amy and she’ll help you decide where you fit best! The editing classes can be taken at any time… even before the Level I class, because they cover information independent of actual photography skills
- How do I know if I should skip Level I (Sweet Shots) and start with Level II (Sweeter Shots)? The Level I class is absolutely packed with information about your DSLR and is the best starting place for almost all new DSLR owners. However, if you’re thinking about starting with Level II, you’re more than welcome to. You’ll be comfortable in the Level II class if you’re already familiar with the following concepts: camera modes, aperture (and its effect on your image’s depth-of-field), focus modes, changing focus points, shutter-relase modes, flash usage, and iso.
- Where are the classes located? The Sweet Shots classes are held at Amy’s studio in Lemont, IL. The studio address is 106 Stephen St, Ste 203, Lemont, IL 60439.
- What should I bring to the class? You’ll definitely want to bring your DSLR! In addition, it’s a great idea to bring a notebook and pen, your camera’s user manual, and any extra lenses, flashes, or accessories that you have.
- Do I need any equipment other than a DSLR to come to the classes? Nope! Just bring along what you already have… Amy will give tips and suggestions for additional lenses and accessories.
- Can my spouse come for free? Unfortunately, no… the class sizes are limited and we therefore plan for every seat being filled by a paying customer.
- Can I bring along my kids? What about nursing infants? Amy LOVES little ones! Because the class is so in-depth and information-packed, however, it’s not a very enjoyable environment for children. Nursing newborns are welcome, though… the studio has a separate waiting room if you’re more comfortable feeding your little one privately.
- What if I sign up but can’t make it? Can I get a refund? Refunds aren’t given for the Sweet Shots Classes, but you’re welcome to reschedule for another date!
General DSLR FAQ’s
- Why should we get a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera? What’s wrong with our point and shoot?!? Digital point-and-shoots are S.L.O.W. As in, your child is in the other room when your point-and-shoot finally takes the picture. And that’s just plain annoying, because what good is a picture of your child if your child isn’t in the picture? Seriously.
- Ok… how fast are they? DSLRs take at least 3 pictures per second. Real parents will tell you that their children easily make that many faces per second, so parents and DSLRs are a great match. : )
- Aren’t they totally impractical? I can’t carry something that huge with me all the time! DSLRs aren’t as bulky as you’re thinking they are. The day I got my first DSLR (it was a gift), I also ordered a new point-and-shoot online because I knew that I’d never (practically) take that big, clunky DSLR to everyday places. My brand new, $150 point-and-shoot arrived in the mail 3 days later and I have yet to take a single picture with it. Where is that thing, by the way?
- We’re not rolling in the dough… How are we supposed to afford a camera like that? DSLRs aren’t as expensive as you’re probably thinking. Most people raise their eyebrows when I tell them that they can get a really decent one for $500 – $600 bucks, and way less than that if you’re not afraid of Craigslist (which you shouldn’t be). There are tons of things that are stupid to finance, as we all know. But if you absolutely have to, a DSLR is one of those things that you just won’t regret getting, even if you have to apply for a Best Buy credit card or something crazy like that. You won’t get decent pictures of your kids if you don’t get a DSLR, and you won’t get those memories back if you wait. Enough said, right?
- Why are you so opinionated about this? Here’s the thing: I probably NEVER would have gotten one for myself if we hadn’t been given our first DSLR as a gift… and what a HUGE loss that would have been!!! Not because I was able to start a business with it and change the life of our family forever. No… it’s a bigger reason than that; it would have been a tremendous loss because now (since I’ve had a DSLR) I have absolutely priceless pictures of my own three babies that will have great meaning for generations to come. Technology rocks, and when it’s as easy to use as today’s consumer-level DSLRs, there’s very little reason not to jump into the pool of parents who’ve taken the DSLR plunge.
What to Get
Why You Want What’s on the List
This list of first-time DSLR recommendations may surprise you, because it’s not exactly what you’ll see in all of the ads geared towards picture-crazy parents. But I’m gonna shoot it to you straight… these are the cameras and gear I strongly recommend if you’re going to buy yourself a DSLR for the very first time, in order of importance:
1. First of all, you need a camera body. The honest truth is that pretty much any DSLR camera body created within the last 5 years is going to do exactly what you need it to do. Yes, some cost more than others, but if you’re hoping to get great pictures of your kids (as opposed to going into business) rest assured that they all have what it takes, because it’s not really the camera body that matters (see point 2). You DON’T need the kit that they’re trying to sell you at Costco with the “fancy” lenses that come with it. That would be putting your $$$ into the wrong stuff… trust me on this one. And one more little note… stick with either Canon or Nikon. If you don’t, you’ll end up paying a lot more for all of the things that go with your camera, including lenses and accessories. They’re both fantastic brands and almost ALL digital photographers use either one or the other… I shoot Nikon but I really do believe that they’re equally wonderful. : )
2. Next, you need a good, fast prime lens. What is a prime lens, you ask? A prime lens is a lens that has a fixed focal length (no cool zooming). I know you think the zooming is the cool part, but it’s not where the great pictures are. Your legs are your zoom, and your pictures will be unbelievably sharp and amazing if you follow my advice on this one. By “fast prime lens”, I mean a lens with an aperture of 1.8 or less. If flags are going up in your head right now because you’re not sure what the word “aperture” means, take a super-deep breath and keep reading. You don’t need to know what it means… just get the lens! That “blurry background” you all want? It’s in the lens.
3. You’ll want two memory cards. I use 4 GB cards, because even though you can get them as big as 32 GB, I don’t ever want SO many pictures sitting on one card just in case something should (heaven forbid!) happen to it. Technology rocks, but it’s not perfect. It’s good to have two cards because at some point you’ll fill one up with wonderful photos, forget to unload it onto your computer, and a have perfect, fleeting moment is right before you. That’s when you’ll pop in your second card and smile… : ) Busy moms and dads need two memory cards.
4. You need an external hard drive asap. Your computer is (at best) a fantastic machine but it will not last forever… as one of our good friends (who worked as a Genius at the Apple Store for years) told us, “It’s not ‘if’ your computer will crash, but ‘when’”. We’ve had computers crash completely at least 3 times… but all of our (and your!) pictures were safe and sound because they weren’t on the actual computers to begin with… they were stored on external hard drives. Ask anyone who’s lost the first 18 months of their baby’s life in pictures because of a hard drive crash… it’s one of the first things you’ll want to get after you buy your camera. Don’t put it off if you can help it, please… you might thank me for this BIG TIME someday. : )
5. Why on earth would I suggest that you get a good camera bag before you even get a cool flash or a zoom lens? Because you’ll only take pictures when you have your camera with you, and you’ll only have your camera with you if you have a bag that’s easy to grab and when you’re headed out the door. Ideally (and I’m talking to moms here) your camera bag will be your purse. There are some FABULOUS purse/camera bag hybrids out there and you’ll feel like a total diva when you throw that beautiful leather baby over your shoulder for the first time. And now (talking to dads) you have the PERFECT lineup of ideas for what to get your beautiful wife and mother of your children for Valentine’s Day, her birthday, Sweetest Day, or that rare but notable occasion when you’ve done something that requires a gift along with a verbal apology. You’re welcome. : )
6. Editing your pictures is like getting married… you’re all happy and in love, but you’re not quite satisfied till you’ve exchanged rings. You can do a bazillion things in Photoshop Elements that takes your pictures from “SOOC” (straight out of the camera) to something really special. Basic color and contrast boosting go a long way, but just think about how wonderful it would be if you could also swap heads, add cool textures, create awesome collages, or change the color and/or feel of your picture in the click of a mouse. Editing completes the picture. No pun intended. : )
7. Next up on the “nice-to-have” list is an auxiliary flash. If you want good pictures inside at night, you’ll need to use some sort of flash, and you’ll be WAY happier with a flash that mounts to the top of your camera than the one that’s built-in. The reason for this is that you can “bounce” an auxiliary flash off of the ceiling or wall for a much more diffused, even light (as opposed to pointing the built-in flash straight at your subject). SO much nicer!
8. Last on the list, in my opinion, is a telephoto zoom lens. Zoom lenses are great when your kids are in soccer or at assemblies at school… you can get wonderful close-up shots from far away. You don’t need a super-long zoom… usually 200mm is long enough to get you right into the action. And it doesn’t have to be majorly expensive, either, because most often you’ll be using a zoom either outside or in a well-lit area, so the aperture doesn’t have to be all that low. If that “a” word is making you feel nervous and unsettled again, just ignore that last sentence and take my word for it… a zoom is a great add-on to your DSLR set!